I was in the parking lot of the BX (Base Exchange) the other day with my kids. As I was placing my goods in the car and getting my son buckled in, I heard loud shouting and cussing coming from somewhere in the parking lot. I couldn’t really hear what the person was so upset about, but I just wanted to get my kids in the car to save their ears from the man’s tirade. As I was getting in the car, a very angry man made his way to the car parked right in front of me. He was dressed in a nice suit, but what was coming out of his mouth was nothing but filth. I was one second away from telling him to watch his language, but at that exact moment, a woman came onto the scene.
She had been following behind her husband at a great distance. I could understand why. He was embarrassing her and quite possibly yelling at her. She had the look of a woman who had endured this for many years–the yelling, the hot temper, the insults, the words that cut like knives.
Her husband got in the car and slammed the door. As she passed in front of the car–her arms wrapped around her in a protective way–our eyes met. Her eyes full of sadness spoke volumes to me.
As she got in the car, she sat down and her husband immediately started in on her. I could tell he was yelling and cussing up a storm. She looked back up at me sitting across from her and I tried to tell her with my eyes that I cared. She hung her head and they drove away.
I used to be a counselor for victims of domestic violence and I know this story all too well. I know the look of a woman who has been through years of emotional abuse. It’s as if all the ugly words have squeezed out every ounce of self-esteem and self-confidence. Basically, they look unloved.
It angers me, because there is so little that can be done. The police can’t be bothered with emotional abuse–they are too busy dealing with all the other ways we, as humans, hurt each other.
Our words matter. They matter so much. We can lift up a life or we can cut it down. The manner in which we choose to speak to people says a lot about us. Our words reflect our souls.
I see so many married couples that use their words like a whip on the back of the one they claim to love. It’s such a sad, unnecessary tragedy. I always tell my children to listen to a person’s words and watch their actions. If the words and the actions are habitually opposed to each other, this is a person that cannot be trusted. I had boyfriends who proclaimed their love in words, yet their actions were hurtful and scarring. This is inconsistent and unhealthy for any relationship, not to mention terribly confusing.
Our marriages, and any relationship really, should not be a place where pain is the norm. If we say we love someone, we should always work to make them feel that love. A good man uses his words to lift up those around him. A good man always seeks to heal and help. A man is always at his best when he causes those around him to shine–sometimes even brighter than himself.
All of us–women and men–should always use our words and our actions to bring about love–especially in a marriage. Any person that I’ve ever met that has used words to cut people is not a joyful person. How could you be? Joy is not found in removing love from people’s lives.
“We can turn our heart through the words we say
Mountains crumble with every syllable
Hope can live or die”
Our words have power. Instinctively we know this, because if we are looking to make someone feel as rotten as we feel, we use words that reflect that darkness. If we have joy in our hearts and seek to love, our words are healing and helpful. At the times in my life when I have used words to hurt, I feel heavy–burdened. How light our hearts feel when our words bring life and love to someone.
I’ve been praying for the lady I saw–I know all too well the sting of painful words. I pray that her husband chooses to heal her broken heart. My heart was once broken, too, by boyfriends from my past. Upon entering my life, my husband spoke life and love to me and that has made all the difference. A person is truly strong when they choose to build up and not tear down.
“Look into the eyes of the broken hearted
Watch them come alive as soon as you speak hope, you speak love, you speak life.”
*Song lyrics are from Toby Mac’s song “Speak Life.”